The wait for Nepal’s debut Twenty20 International Series will be over on Wednesday as Nepal take on Hong Kong in the first of three T20I matchesin Dambulla, Sri Lanka. This is Nepal’s first bilateral international series. Hong Kong on the other hand had their first bilateral series(although ODI) against PNG in Australia a week ago.This tournament is T20I bilateral series for both teams.
Asian Cricket Council set up the tournament as a High performance program for Nepal as well as Hongkong after Nepal was awarded T20I status based on their impressive show performance in T20 World Cup. Hong Kong has its T20I status being a ODI nation. Both of the teams are playing their first 20-20 match after the T20 World Cup.
Nepal goes into the series with admirable performance in the two 3 day matches. Nepal’s only challenge is to adapt to the shortest version of the game. Hong Kong on the other hand come with their confidence severely dented losing both ODI and 3 day match against PNG in Australia. Adjusting in the sub-continental pitches after playing in the fast Australian tracks will test Hong Kong batsman.
Paras Khadka has performed exceptionally well against Hong Kong across all formats. But he hasn’t been among runs in recent matches. Tomorrow’s match and this T20I series could be a platform for Khadka to get back his batting form, right before the all important Division 2.
Head to Head
3 day – 3 total-1 Nepal – 1 Hongkong 1 Draw
One day – 7 total – 4 Nepal – 3 Hongkong
Twenty20 – 6 total – 4 Nepal – 2 Hongkong
Nepal have mostly stood taller than their higher ranked nemesis winning 4 of the 6 20-20 matches. Hong Kong-Nepal fixture produced some high voltage matches like the one in the T20 World Cup Qualifier 2014. Nepal chased HK 144 run target in exactly 20 overs to qualify for the World Cup. But Hong Kong were humiliated by 80 runs in the WC by Nepal.
Players to Watch Out:
Paras Khadka’s performance with the bat has primarily determined Nepal’s performance in T20 against Hong Kong. Paras Khadka averages over 36 against Hong Kong in Twenty20 scoring 216 runs in 6 T20 matches played.
Khadka scored 44 and 68 against Hong Kong ACC T20 2011 Cup and ICC World Cup Qualifier 2012 respectively to guide Nepal to victory. Khadka made 46 runs off 39 balls in the Quarter Finals of 2014 T20 World Cup Qualifier and took Nepal to the T20 World Cup. He adjudged the player of the matches in all 3 matches.
His 41 against HK in the World T20 and the first ball wicket of Irfan Ahmed was pivotal in Nepal 80 runs win.
In 2010 Asian games and 2013 ACC T20 Elite- Nepal’s only 2 losses to HK in T20 matches Khadka made 13 and 4 runs respectively.
Khadka also has 2 half centuries against Hong Kong in One day matches both coming in the ACC Elite Trophy, 81 in 2008 and 61 in 2012
Left arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed has been Hong Kong’s star against Nepal. The two times Nepal lost of Hong Kong, Nadeem was the main culprit bagging 3 wickets in each match to take his side to glory.
Nadeem’s brother, Irfan Ahmed probably the most prolific hitter in Associate Cricket area hasn’t had much T20 stat along him in matches against Nepal but with a century and 4 fifties to his name in T20s his performance will very much determine the fate of tomorrow’s match.
Nepal lacks the experience of Sharad Vesawkar in the middle but Rajesh Pulami has shown that he can compensate his absence. Hong Kong squad looks particularly depleted withou Nizzakat Khan and Amshuman Rath. Three players Waqas Khan, Anas Khan and Niraj Patwari are completely new to the national squad. Muhammad Khan, Ehsan Khan make it from HK U19 squad.
Nepal Squad:Paras Khada (c), Subash Khakurel, Sagar Pun, Gyanendra Malla, Binod Bhandari, Rajesh Pulami Naresh Budhyer, Karan KC, , Bhuwan Karki, Sompal Kami, Basant Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Anil Mandal, Pradeep Airee, Amrit Bhattarai
Hong Kong Squad: Jamie Atkinson (c), Waqas Barkat, Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, , Aizaz Khan, Tanwir Afzal, Haseeb Amjad, Babar Hayat, Ehsan Nawaz, Ankur Vasishta, Muhammad Khan, Kinchit Shah, Waqas Khan, Anas Khan, Niraj Patwari